Who doesn’t love to sit down and enjoy a good book? If you love to read, and enjoy sharing a good tail, consider taking some to volunteer, reading to shelter pets! Literary community programs have popped up across animal shelters and rescue organizations throughout the United States and Canada. Many of these literary community programs are catered to school-age kids, so this is a great opportunity to introduce the young people in your life to the joy of reading and volunteerism. So, let’s take a look at the wonderful world of reading to shelter pets and how you can get help.
Reading to Shelter Pets: A Moment Forever Changed
The State of the Shelter Pet
The animal shelter is not ideal for any pet because the environment is unfamiliar to them. This stark atmosphere can be unsettling for the family pet or the stray. “There are so many different variables that affect a pet’s emotional well-being and mood in a shelter. The pet is often scared, due to loud noises, and unsure of their surroundings. Their familiar home environment and family are not there,” states on-site Trupanion Shelter Coordinator Katherine Britton.
The Effects of Reading to Shelter Pets
It can be somewhat challenging for a pet to feel calm in a shelter. “Due to the pet having increased cortisone levels, often their stress level keeps going up,” says Katherine. The act of reading to the pets can create an opportunity for a safe and calm environment. Likewise, “For Shelter Pets, in particular, I think one possible benefit is to help with socialization. Having someone read to them allows them the opportunity to have a low-stress interaction with someone other than the usual shelter staff. Depending on the pet, this could, as a result, help reduce stress and anxiety,” shares on-site Trupanion veterinarian, Dr. Sarah Nold.
A Bond-like No Other
For a rare moment reading a book to a pet can almost feel like a home. Also, “Reading to the pet allows a human interaction and a connection. There is a bond between that child and pet. The pet doesn’t feel alone,” says Katherine. Not all shelter pets are used to being around kids, “This can provide good exposure to children, typically cats and dogs are hand-picked to participate in the literary program,” says Katherine.
Explore Imagination and Learning
Reading programs like these can be a learning opportunity for both child and pet. The pet is given the opportunity to socialize, and the child is practicing important reading skills in an environment that is fun and low-pressure. Additionally, “it is teaching beneficial skills such as compassion, and connecting to animals. They are learning of animal welfare and connecting to their community with animals,” states Katherine.
Reading to shelter pets can provide a calm and nurturing environment during a critical time of transition. Next time you have the time, stop by your local animal shelter and consider reading to a pet. It can create an opportunity like no other and can truly make their day. You never know you might meet your new forever family member.